Fine Dining Perfection
Some high-end restaurants in Jakarta have started to shy away from the term “fine dining” to describe themselves, worried it may be off-putting to some guests. But AMUZ, universally considered one of the finest French restaurant in Jakarta, is unapologetically a fine dining establishment, one that offers a truly rarefied culinary experience.
Opened in 2011, AMUZ is the brainchild of Chef Gilles Marx, who has worked in the Indonesian capital for many years and gained a legendary reputation as the Executive Chef of Riva restaurant in the Park Lane Hotel. When he decided to create his own restaurant, Marx wanted a place that would offer his guests the absolute best dining experience that he could offer and AMUZ is the result of that vision.
The name of the restaurant is a play on the word “amuse,” which is, of course, linked to the French fine dining term “amuse-bouche” literally meaning mouth amuser. AMUZ is definitely a feast for the senses, and not just in terms of Chef Gilles impeccable fine-dining fare. The restaurant’s elegant interiors are meant to evoke the feel of Paris, from the Eiffel Tower-inspired ironwork to the unique teardrop-style chandeliers. At night, when the tables are lit with candlelight, it is easily one of the most romantic restaurants in the city.
Chef Gilles takes an uncompromising approach to his cuisine, utilising the finest imported ingredients and updating the menu often to follow the seasons and take advantage of the perfect produce. He uses refined modern techniques to take French dining classics to the next level. Take, for example, the sophisticated escargot dish found on the latest menu, which sees tender morsels of the succulent molluscs paired with a bright green watercress broth. Escargot are generally paired with heavier ingredients like butter and garlic, but Chef Gilles gently scents them with anis, the herbaceous sweetness making them a perfect match for the fresh, vibrant mix of baby vegetables surrounding them. To add another layer of flavour and texture to the dish, a ball of escargot and spinach crusted with sesame seeds adorns the plate.
On our latest visit, we also tried one of the new menu’s foie gras starter. As with most classical preparations, this foie gras dish pairs the duck liver with a sweet fruit accompaniment, in this case a compote made from “exotic” fruits such as mango and passionfruit. But Chef Gilles again adds another layer to the dish through the addition of a shooter glass filled with an intense porcini mushroom broth. The rich meaty umami flavour of the broth balances out the sweetness of the fruit, while a subtle hazelnut foam on the foie gras ties together the sweet and savoury sides of the dish.
Chef Gilles draws inspiration from other cooking traditions besides French to add greater dimension to his dishes, such as the crispy seared Australian sea bass, which utilises olives and a brightly acidic tapenade to contrast the subtle taste of the fish. It’s also a dish that shows off the kitchen’s flair for presentation – a fan of elegantly layered, crisp pommes maxime springs up behind the fish fillet like a peacock’s tail.
Another beautifully balanced dish is the latest menu’s ballotine, which uses guinea fowl instead of the usual chicken. The succulent bird flesh is mixed with foie gras and paired with morel mushrooms, melding to create a deliciously rich and complex umami flavour. Red cabbage and an inventive sauce, made with cold-filtered apple cider, provides a pleasingly tart counter-note.
While the menu is updated frequently to match the seasons, a page of “classique” dishes remain as a consistent foundation to the menu, featuring more archetypal versions of French standards such as fresh oysters from Brittany served with their classic accompaniments of lemon, mignonette sauce and rye bread. An all-time favourite for those looking to go all out is the wagyu tenderloin Rossini topped with truffles, a generous slice of foie gras and a red port wine sauce.
Before your dinner, be sure to take the opportunity to watch Chef Gilles and his team create your meal in AMUZ’s immaculate open kitchen and explore the restaurant’s walk-in glass wine cellar, where you’ll find an excellent selection of French, as well as other European and New World wines. Don’t be shy – dining at AMUZ is pretty much a guarantee of a singularly memorable meal, so get the most out of your experience.